Its Official: Love The Greatest Scam Of All
Love the greatest scam of all – with $25 million conned from love hungry Aussies, a new report shows.
The report, ”Targeting scams” released by the ACCC shows 91,000 Australians were scammed out of $90 million last year. And that is just the scams reported to the consumer watchdog.
Scams asking for upfront fees were the most reported scams last year – including reclaim, inheritance scams; promises of goods or profits from gold, gemstones and oil; rental scams; and fake vouchers like ”Get a free $50 Woolworths voucher” or ”Customer Satisfaction Surveys”.
Scam victims were most commonly aged between 45-54 in 2013. Worryingly, there was a 10% rise in scams reported.
I Love Ur Money
But, it seems love or romance scams cause the greatest heartbreak and financial loss of all. Aussies lost a gut wrenching $21,000 on average to romance and dating scams last year, despite these scams comprising just 3% of all reported scams.
Just under half of those approached by an online admirer lost money.
“Relationship scams cause the most significant emotional and economic harm to victims,” warns ACCC Deputy Chair Delia Rickard.
Scammers invest considerable time and effort deceiving you into a fake romance, a fraudulent business partnership or a complex investment scheme.
“Their ultimate aim is to build your trust so they can steal your personal details and money.”
Scammers may wait months before requesting money and use a range of excuses to avoid chats online or face-to-face meetings.
Identity theft, Phishing risePhone calls and texts were the most common channel for scams to be carried out (52%), followed by emails and internet sites (40%).
There was a tow of incidences of people being scammed out of more than $1 million and one third of all scams lost between $100-$499.
10% of scam victims lost over $10K.
Identity theft and ”phishing”, where scammers were sending an email that looks like it comes from your bank, financial institution or telco, rose 73% and was the second most common scam, last year.
The scammer claims that the person needs to provide their personal information to update or verify their account details, or to win a prize. They are usually after usernames, unique user numbers and passwords. If this information is provided, the scammer will exploit it for personal gain.
“Phishing scams often create a sense of urgency to get you to click through and provide personal information without thinking-don”t let scammers press your buttons,” warns Rickard.
Consumers were conned out of $5 million from online shopping including fake classified ads and overpayment scams, where a scammer responds to a seller”s ad with a generous offer and then ”accidentally” overpays.
The scammer will request that the seller refund the excess amount by money transfer in the hope that the seller will transfer the money before they discover that the cheque bounced or the money order was fake.
National Consumer Fraud Week starts today and the consumer watchdog, ACCC, is urging consumers to ”Know who you”re dealing with” as reports indicate that scammers are now taking the time to develop a connection with victims, especially in romance scams.
“People should be particularly vigilant in asking themselves who they are really dealing with when they meet the person online,” says Rickard.
“Scammers take advantage of the internet to establish relationships behind a smoke screen, where they remain anonymous while connecting with people around the globe with the click of a button.”
As part of Fraud Week, the ACCC is releasing a ”Scam Identifier List” to help Australians identify and disengage from a scammer online:
1. You”ve never met or seen them: scammers will say anything to avoid a ”face-to-face” meeting, whether it be in person or over the internet via a video chat – don”t excuse it away.
2. They”re not who they appear to be: scammers steal photos and profiles from real people to create an appealing facade. Run a Google Image search on photos and search words in their description to check if they”re the real deal.
3. They ask to chat with you privately: scammers will try and move the conversation away from the scrutiny of community platforms to a one-on-one interaction such as email or phone – ”walk” away if this happens to you.
4. You don”t know a lot about them: scammers are keen to get to know you as much as possible, but are less forthcoming about themselves. Ask yourself, ”how well do I really know this person?”
5. They ask you for money: once the connection has been made – be it as a friend, admirer or business partner – scammers will ask you to transfer money. Don”t fall for a tall tale, no matter how plausible it sounds.
However, the $90 million lost to scams in 2013 was less than then $93m lost in 2012.